As we approach training camp, it’s time for some veterans to decide they just don’t have another season in them. One made that choice Monday — WR Derrick Mason of the Ravens. Here are some thoughts on Mason’s retirement, followed by thoughts on what the Ravens might do now at wideout. You can see how this retirement compares to others this offseason in this cumulative post.
Mason wasn’t big (just 5-foot-10), but throughout the decade he has been a No. 1 receiver who is a dependable chain-moving target who can also make big plays. He had 60-plus catches every year this decade once he established himself as a starter in Tennessee, and he was the kind of solid receiver that defense-oriented teams in Tennessee and Baltimore needed him to be. In fact, Mason (a two-time Pro Bowler) had a similar career to Hines Ward, though he has never gotten the pub that Ward has. Mason deserves credit for the fact that those teams were contenders for much of the decade. Mason’s career numbers – 790 catches for more than 10,000 yards and 79 touchdowns – are surprisingly good, and they’re a tribute to the longevity of a guy who epitomizes the term professional.
The Ravens, now, are in trouble at receiver. Their lone proven receiver is Mark Clayton, who has emerged to be a dependable starter over the past two years. But he’s a No. 2 wideout, not a No. 1. Demetrius Williams is a tall wideout who can make big plays but who hasn’t been dependable. The Ravens sniffed around trade possibilities for star receivers like Anquan Boldin and Brandon Marshall this offseason, and they might now be motivated to make that kind of splashy move. But a more cost-effective move might be to bring in a veteran like Marvin Harrison to provide leadership and a security blanket for young QB Joe Flacco.